Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bilbo's New House

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One week ago I started moving in...on my birthday...and today the big move is finally over...and...I can now finally enjoy the fruits of my labor. I still have some things to organize in the garage and, a few items to get, but the hard part of moving is now over. Although I have just moved across town it feels like I am living in a totally different city. I moved to East Bakersfield which is closer to the foothills and is a much older and quiter part of town. I really, really, like it, so far, although at the current moment the house if full of the friends of my two teenage sons. Later this evening an old friend and his family will be spending the night and I won't really get much peace and quiet until after New Year's Day. The whole move and the initial feelings associated with the move can best be described as surreal and dreamlike which I attribute to the fact that this is the first time in my life I have lived "totally" on my own... and...the fact that my current living situation is so radically different than what I have been experiencing for the past four and a half years. In some ways I feel like I am starting over again or at least entering a completely new faze of my life....Now that my living situation has changed I can now turn my attention towards exploring and creating some new social networks which is something I need to do. I have alot of longtime loyal friends in Bakersfield but most of them are busy with the daily grind of work and family responsibilities. We touch base from time to time but I feel like I need to expand my network of friends to include meeting some new people who are share some of my interests and passions. I have a few ideas of what I intend to do on this front but don't anticipate doing much until after the new the meantime...I intend to just hang out here at the house for the rest of my a little blogging...continue workining on the house...watching some football...and...try to enjoy life....

The Bedroom

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The Dining Room

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The Kitchen

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm wiped out.....

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This is going to be the shortest blog entry ever. All I have to say is that I am totally exhausted. I put in 14 hours today. I didn't realize moving is so much work. I need to move more often....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We all have our ups and downs in life...but...sometimes the dark night of the soul descends upon us for an extended period of time. For the past four and a half years I have lived under a significant amount of stress and anxiety due to my divorce and my subsequent living situation. This fall my living situation became increasingly bleak and when it looked like it was about to reach unbearable levels recently and the orcs, goblins, and trolls were going to consume yours truly, Gandalf arrived on the nick of time...and...just in time for Christmas...What mysteries do I speak of you may ask?...This afternoon I met with an ER doctor who currently lives in Hawaii, in regards, to renting his house. Apparently he has been trying to sell his house for the past two months, without any luck, so now he has decided to try to rent it out...I was very interested to say the least. The house is over 1900 square feet. Hardwood floors, very nice tile walkways, new carpet, appliances, covered patio, and is walking distance from the college where my two sons plan to attend...and...walking distance to the church where they attend...and...a couple of blocks from the bikepath where I ride my bike...and...built in bookshelves!...Generally, I am not a compulsive person and I like to think before I make important decisions and I wanted my two sons to see the place considering they may come to live with me in the near future. After looking at the house they both enouraged me to rent approximately four o'clock this afternoon I called my future landlord and told him I would rent out the house. It was a win, win situation for both of us. He was afraid he wasn't going to rent out the house and I was getting increasingly depressed about my living situation. I can't tell you how happy I am about my new living situation...and...Tomorrow I will begin moving in and I hope to be moved in completely before New Years Day, just in time to see my USC Trojans crush Michigan. A couple of additional perks. The landlord will pay for a gardner, and he is leaving his new washer, dryer, fridgerator, and microwave which will save me thousands of dollars because I didn't own any of these things.....Tomorrow is my birthday and I can't think of a better birthday present to myself than the opportunity to move into my new house. What a glorious day!!!

Setting the Record Straight

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My two sons Paul and Wesley asked me if we could go and see the new movie Eragorn but I am reluctant to spend the big bucks to see this was hammered by the majority of the movie critics...It only received a ten percent approval rating on Rottentomatoes.... Ouch!!!...It doesn't get much worse than that...but..I wasn't particularly surprised and suspected something was up when "my sources on the street" made no mention of the film as the release day approached and I noticed the film wasn't released to the critics prior to the film's opening on Friday almost always a bad sign....Over the years I have been critisized by friends and family members alike for reading movie critics and relying on their advise for my choice of purchasing DVD's or going to the movies....but...let's get the record straight. I don't go to a movie or not go to a movie because on anything a "particular" critic says about a film... but... I generally pay attention when the vast majority of critics either like a film or not and this approach has served me well over the years. My DVD collection which includes such films as Mrs. Brown, Princess Mononoke,Last of the Dogmen,Girl with a Pearl Earring,Dark City,Existenz,Gattica,Frailty,Quills,Waking Ned Divine,Touching the Void, and Spirited Away are all films that I probably would have never seen, let alone purchased, if I first hadn't read or watched movie reviews over the years. One may not want to over rely on the opinions of the movie critics when choosing to see this film or that but it is what they do for a living and I for one am grateful they provide a service for him or her who has ears to hear....

The Last Ten Days

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Here is a quick cliffnote version of the past ten days.

1. Went to see Mel Gibson's movie Apocalypto. While I do respect Gibson's willingness to take risks in his filmaking choices there is just too much running around in the jungle and "lack" of historical context and character developement to win me over. Some have hailed this film as cautionary reminder of what happens to a society that losses it's moral compass but I suspect this is only true for the viewer who already strongly believes this to begin with. For most folks who see the film I am afraid it will only contribute to their interest and thirst for violence. I wasn't moved by the film and had a similar emotional response when I saw The Passion.I guess I just don't get it...Here is my suggestion to Mel. Give me Braveheart II before you take on another potential earth shattering project.

2. Spent some time looking for houses and found two houses that I "really", "really" liked but they both fell through. The one guy decided to stay put and the other house was rented the previous day by a couple moving here from Texas who had not even seen the house, except for some small photo on the internet! I was deeply disappointed because I want to move out of my current living situation so bad...I have decided to stay put during the holidays and wait until after New Years to start looking again. There are a ton of houses to rent on the market, but too many of them are way overpriced, imo, and I am picky about the kind of house I want to live in...In the meantime, I am trying to make a home for myself in "my heart" whether I am at work, travelling, or in my bedroom.

3. I have reacquainted myself with "enchanting" music and literature. I am currently reading William Morris facsmile Kelmscott Press Edition of "The Wood Beyond the World"...Morris founded Kelmscott Press in 1890 and his production company has produced some of the most celebrated and beautifully illustrated books in history. I own a facsimile reproduction of the Kelms Geoffrey Chaucer's Works which includes over 87 mind blowing illustrations. It is the most valuable book I own and the limited originals are considered some of the most valuable books ever published. As a writer Morris is not in the same league as Tolkien or Lewis but the few books he has written are enchanting and worthy of reading if one is a fantasy buff like me....On the music front, I recently purchased two C.D.'s by Loreena Mckennitt. "Mckennitt is a Canadian singer, composer, harpist and pianist most famous for writing, recording and performing world music with a new-age/Celtic feel". I have known about her for quite some time but have never purchased anything by her until last week. She is often compared to Enya but after listening to her new album "An Ancient Muse" and her live performances in Paris and Toronto I feel her music has more depth and variety than the music of Enya. It has been said of Mckennitt that "before McKennitt composes any music, she engages in massive research on a specific subject which forms the general concept of the album. Before creating Elemental and Parallel Dreams she travelled to Ireland for inspiration from the country's history, geography and culture. The album The Mask and Mirror was preceded by research in Spain where she engaged in studying Galicia, a Celtic section of Spain, along with its abundant Arabic roots, thus creating an album including elements of both Celtic and Arabic music...and...according to the liner notes of her latest album, An Ancient Muse was inspired primarily by travels among and reading about the various cultures along the Silk Road."....She is probably best known for her pop hit, "The Mummer's Dance" back in the 1990's but my current favorite is a song called, "The Lady of Shalott", a beautiful enchanting nine minute song about "a magical being who lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot"....Her most recent release An Ancient Muse is her first release since 1998. She has not produced any new music since the death of her fiancé Ronald Rees and two others close to her drowned during a boating accident. Apparently this event had a profound effect on her life, as expected, for the past eight years. She has an incredibly beautiful voice and her music has alot of variety which is something you often don't find in some of the other popular "New Age sounding" musicians. It's worth a spin and a few bucks if you like some New Age enchantment from time to time....

4. Yesterday was my last day at work for the next three weeks. I won't be around much this holiday season. I am going camping next week and then my sons and I are going to Tucson Arizona for a week before I head off to San Diego to finish up my vacation. I will be home for a couple of days near Christmas and will be home on New Year's Day to watch USC crush Michigan and demonstrate "once again" why midwest football is always overated.

A page from Chaucer

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Back from the Attack

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I have been offline now for about ten days after a virus attacked my computer and destroyed a number of my operating took longer than normal to get my computer back because apparently the computer store where I get my computer serviced had an out of date phone number. Fortunately, I stopped by the store yesterday to check on the status of my computer or else I may not have gotten my computer back who knows when???? So, what was it like to be without a computer for ten days?....Actually, not as bad as I had anticipated. Before, when my computer went on the blink I would get a bit anxious but this time I just went with the flow. I have kept myself busy with work, sending out Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, wrapping Christmas presents, and listening to a lot of music which I will have more to say about in a later blog entry. I am glad to get my computer back but during this "ordeal" I was reminded there is a real world outside of cyberspace that is full of life, joy, and possibilities...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life

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I'm currently re-reading Thomas Moore's books "The Care of the Soul, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life,and Soul Mates". While his writings can be, at times, a bit, esoteric, and hard to follow, he most often has some profound, interesting, and unique things to say about life, love, and the inner workings of the human spirit which he identifies as the soul in his writings. His unique style is probably related to his rather unique background, experiences, and the wide range of writers who have influenced his life and thought. Moore grew up in a working class family in Detroit Michigan. His father was a plumber and his mom a housewife. After graduating from Catholic prep high school he travelled and attended college in Ireland, Canada, and the states where he earned degrees in theology, musicology, and philosophy. Later he spent twelve years in Catholic order as a monk. He eventually left the order, married, had a child, and practiced psychotherapy before becoming a popular author and speaker in the early 1990's. Many of his books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Personally I find his books very interesting and stimulating which is probably due to the eclectic influences he cites in his biography on his website. The eclectic who's, who, include Jung, William Blake, William Morris, Bach, Emily Dickinson, Emerson, Marquis De Sade, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu,Dorothy Sayers, Oscar Wilde, and James Hillman, a "Pomoxian" leaning, readers delight.

In the weeks to come and until this little reading project runs it's course, I'll try to pass along a few quotes, comments, and ponderings as time and motivation for now... I'll leave you with the following quotes from his book "The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life, for you to ponder.

"The Soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular excursions into enchantment. It requires them like the body needs food and the mind needs thought. Yet our culture often takes pride in disproving and exploding the sources of enchantment, explaining away one mystery after another and overturning shrines, dissolving the family farm that has housed spirits of civility for eons, or desecrating for material profit a mountain or stream sacred to native residents. We have yet to learn that we can't survive without enchantment and that the loss of it is killing us."

Enchantment is tinged with play and eros,...elements that are suspect in culture of extreme ambition, and it always implies an escape from logic, one of the prized tools in a society bent on understanding...enchantment is often colored by at least soft hues of absurdity, which is only a sign of it's saving distance from excessive rationality"

"I'd rather be a dysfunctional soul than a well-adjusted robot"

The tendency of reason and science to take up too much room in modern life is just another symptom of disenchantment. The root problem is not science. It is religion...
Many people define their religion as a belief, and they pin their hopes and understanding on a provisional understanding of life. But there isn't much room for faith in a religion that is reduced to belief, and there isn't any place for an open-minded appreciation for the world's sacredness. In a disenchanted world, for all its concern for morals and social action, religion separates itself from everyday life and becomes obsessed with its own brand of belief and moral purity. In this kind of setting, the people who pollute our rivers and oceans and exploit workers and famililies may go to church and profess strong moral values, and yet they don't have any concience about the water, the earth, or human community....There is something dreadfully wrong with this kind of religion, which creates a kind of psychotic dissociation. A person feels morally pure because he is blissfully adhering to ideas of moralilty that have little to do with the world in which he lives, and at the same time is committing heinous sins that are not cataloged in his disenchanted morality."

"The first step in enchantment, then, is to recover a beginner's mind and a child's wonder, to forget some of the things we have learned and to which we are attached. As we empty ourselves of disenchanted values, a fresh, paradisical spirit may pour in,and then we may discover the nature of the soul and the pleasure of being a participant,and not a master, in the extravagance of life"